The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Ethics Reduce Stress, Absenteeism

column

A CURSORY look at most organisations in the country today will show that there exists in their employ a high number of stressed workers who detest unethical practices, and have to endure working with bosses and colleagues who engage in all sorts of workplace misdemeanour with little or nothing at all being done by their organisations to curtail such behaviour.

Ethical employees find it stressful and difficult to work in organisations that are unethical. Research shows that unethical workplaces result in increased staff absenteeism, fatigue, demotivation and job dissatisfaction.

Organisations without clear ethics processes have employees who are perennially stressed, and who struggle to keep themselves at work. They have employees who are bored and will always find excuses to absent themselves because their employers are not "supportive". Without ethics guidance, these employees feel confused and dismembered. They don't trust their bosses, and will always view them as giving manipulative instructions that does little to meet organisational objectives. Because of bad ethics, stressed employees will always be bad performers.

Mistrust between management and employees as a result of poor ethics can manifest through gossiping, venting and complaints that go around in company corridors. Many managers seem not so sure about how they can go about addressing ethical challenges in the workplace, but the answer is quite simple.

Best practices dictate that it is the responsibility of managers to shape and transmitethical values to employees. This is so because managers drive business operations, and decisions around critical staff issues such as reward and performance management, promotions and dismissals are made by managers.

Managers must embed ethics in company structures through the implementation of comprehensive ethics management processes and periodic ethics training for staff. Organisational ethics provide employees with the basis for thinking about ethical issues in the context of their unique jobs and work environment. They help employees to resolve ethical dilemmas and report unethical practices perpetrated by colleagues with confidence.

Yes, it is true that employees want their companies to put in place measures through which they can report unethical practices without fear of victimisation, and it is also true that they want to see their organisations taking stern measures to fix these ethical problems. Managers thus have a responsibility to impart ethical skills to employees so that employees can recognise ethical risks in the workplace and deal with them decisively.

Every employee deserves to work in an ethical environment where he/she can develop, flourish, and succeed. Surely, no employee enjoys working for a company he/she doesn't like, respect, or trust.

Business ethics develops motivated employees, and this certainty must see companies engaging employees in an atmosphere of trust, transparency, fairness and objectivity to ensure diversity in thinking, productivity and innovation. Through ethics, employees are able to build purposeful and successful careers. It is common knowledge that employees need a free and engaging work culture to prosper, and this is exactly what properly structured organisational ethics can achieve.

Information I have gathered from those corporations I have worked with in developing their ethics processes show that people want to work and deal with organisations that are ethical. Apparently, ethics is no longer a soft issue as many would want to view it. Managers must truly become powerful communicators of ethics in the workplace.

Employees need clear and consistent messages that ethical practices are essential to the success of the organisation, and that those who violate ethical values will be punished. Ethics is required in order to confront the truth that organisations must face with regard to stemming out inappropriate workplace behaviour.

Dissatisfied employees and customers are a repository of the truth and companies must talk to these key stakeholders to discover that truth. Properly structured organisational ethics results in employees being focused towards achieving work targets than spending company time sieving online social networks and playing computer games.

BradwellMhonderwa is an Ethics Coach and Trainer with the Business Ethics Centre. Send feedback to bradwellm@mail.com, or call 0772 913 875

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